"I'll have the omelet please, and black coffee," I told my waiter. I was researching Dallas' best breakfasts and hoped a luxury hotel version from the Mansion on Turtle Creek would make the cut. My waiter asked what kind of filling I wanted with my eggs, and I responded that the omelet would be fine on its own.
He raised an eyebrow, as if to question why I'd want an omelet stuffed with nothing. "I want a simple, perfect omelet that tastes of butter, with moist, weeping curds," I told him. I'm convinced he thought I was a nut.
A short while later my plate arrived, looking quite dashing -- a fluffy fold of eggs encased in a perfect canary hue. But looks aren't everything, and after cutting the omelet open with my fork I found a dry, overcooked dish that tasted of nothing more than set, scrambled eggs. When the bill arrived my distaste with the Mansion's breakfast was compounded: the omelet cost $20.
At first I didn't want to knock the restaurant, because I think perception in Dallas works against its omelet. Dallas is a town that predominantly leans towards well-done cookery. People here seem to more often prefer their burgers cooked through and their steaks medium, and I'm sure a runny omelet is sent back to the kitchen as underdone more often than not. But then I looked at my bill and remembered requesting the omelet be prepared with a light hand. My request was ignored. My omelet made me sad.
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The perfect omelet is a true thing of beauty. You'll often hear food writers wax on and on about simplicity in cuisine, so much that it sounds cliche, but in an omelet those words really resonate. When farm fresh eggs are cooked gently in the presence of copious butter they become something new. A rich custard texture accents a flavor with which cheese would be redundant and any other filling would be a distraction.
Paul Grimes knows how to talk omelet. The food editor for the now defunct Gourmet Magazine put together this video tutorial, which clearly and concisely describes how to make a textbook omelet. Francis Lam wrote this ode to perfect eggs for the same publication. I've only had a handful of omelets cooked with such care in my life. I wish they were more common.